PaulM left a comment on my Surface Temperature Workshop Blog, and my response was too long to fit in the small ‘reply’ box.
Your admiration and praise for the openness of this process is somewhat misplaced. See the comments by Roger Pielke at
Key people in the field were not invited, and no information has been provided on who was invited or even who attended the meeting.
On the workshop blog, links to posts “will be limited to views from workshop participants”.
Also your remark “the spectrum of adjustments is generally as much positive as it is negative” is misleading. The net effect of the adjustments in the US is to introduce a warming of about 0.5 F over the period 1950-2000, as shown at
Thanks for that. I disagree and I think Roger Pielke’s blog comments are unfair. He has disabled comments so I can’t leave comments there.
I am not at a technical expert in this field – I am general physicist and specialist in temperature measurement, and my contributions to the workshop were generally along the line of insisting that uncertainty of measurement estimates be included in the data files from the outset. A pretty mundane input, but hopefully significant. I don’t know the details of the invitation process but the people involved did seem to me to feel slightly traumatised and so probably didn’t invite people they viewed as ‘hostile’. I think they wanted skeptics rather than cynics. What I didn’t (and still don’t) understand is why this community has been the focus of so much negativity. I think the reason they are being so widely criticised is because the output of their work indicates that the Earth is warming, and this is a politically unwelcome result for some people. From my point of view, if their work is wrong then the errors will show up eventually, but actually the ‘signal’ they see appeared to me to be fairly robust. There are plenty of other reasons to be concerned that humans might be affecting the climate and this is just one more, and IMHO, one of the less significant pieces of evidence.
The individuals I spoke with were very open to answering my ‘dumb’ questions. As a group, they seemed to me to be very genuine people who were just trying to communicate clearly what their research revealed. They spoke of their errors – and how any admission of error caused them to be pilloried – and they spoke of the stress of trying to work in the face of that.
You raised the issue of adjustments to the data and I have been slowly working on a blog posting on that specifically – hopefully in the next day or two. The key thing I learned at the meeting concerned this adjustment – the homogenisation process. Historical and current meteorological data was and is compiled for reasons other than Climate Research, and so with the possible exception of the new US climate reference network pretty much all the data from around the globe has large measurement uncertainties, probably greater than 1 °C – but these are mainly Type B (systematic) uncertainties. However, the Type A uncertainty, the reproducibility of the monthly or yearly-averaged data is good, probably less than 0.1 °C. What this community has done is to ask the question ‘Can one do anything with this this data?’ and the answer they give is ‘Yes’, providing one can assess the effect of shifts in Type B terms. I have been slowly reading through literature on this and their arguments seem sound. The key point is that it is essential to adjust the data to cope with shifts and drifts in the Type B terms. So the adjustments they make to the data do not ‘introduce’ a warming trend, they ‘reveal’ it.
All the best